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The Meaning of Life

If the meaning of life were defined by colleges,

life would come after April 1st,

childbirth after asking “why us?”—

instead of Fitzgerald, the literature

filling the Barnes & Nobles bookshelves

would be Princeton Review stories of success.

 

If Ivy Leagues were to define success,

Phi Beta Kappas would run electoral colleges,

SAT vocabulary manuals sag the bookshelves,

five-year-olds learn to write “me” essays first;

unique-tales-about-a-special-rock would be literature,

and its theme “community is not me, but us!”

 

All the world would want passports from the US,

where internationalism is failed success,

where experience is sought to produce literature,

to create narratives for top-rated colleges—

oh! and make sure your starving children’s charity is the first

to have stocked its library with full bookshelves.

 

Learn how to mosey your way around the bookshelves

where colleges teach you the ropes of “how to get into us,”

so admissions gods might choose you first

and make you special, glowing with success,

who will be able to write on Facebook: “i am going to college!”

and perhaps never again read literature.

 

However, if your unfortunate love is literature,

do not roam among the bestselling bookshelves,

where all you see is diversity’s success at attending colleges,

where being accepted is being able to call your “me” “us,”

where losing your own identity is a success,

because you will be able to put some sorority first.

 

So perhaps if your life goal is to get that large packet first,

before you contemplate any introspective literature,

then maybe you shouldn’t expect much success

where your name will be lining the bookshelves;

perhaps you should consider changing your name to “us”

before you apply to those colleges.

 

Whether six or thirty-nine colleges, you have to sell yourself first;

Yet you must think in the collective “us” when writing your

“me” literature,

because of course to make it to the bookshelves, you have to be the perfect story of success.

 

-Stefani Kuo ‘13

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